Category Archives: Family and Child Nutrition

Why I am adopting a Health at Every Size® approach

After nearly five years, I have decided to leave my job in medical weight management to practice a Health at Every Size® (HAES®) approach.

Here’s why:

Dieting does more harm than good.  Research shows that dieting is more likely to lead to weight gain than weight loss.  A review of 31 weight loss studies found that dieting was ineffective at producing long term weight loss, and one-third to two-thirds of dieters gained more weight than they lost (Mann et al, 2007).  Calorie restriction leads to preoccupation with food, binge eating and weight obsession.

Weight loss messages contribute to weight stigma.  Weight loss messages perpetuate the idea that anyone can lose weight, and that “overweight” people are lazy or lack willpower. In reality, weight is determined by a complex interaction between genes, environment and social influences. Once a set-point weight range is established, the brain works hard to defend it (Sumatran and Proietto, 2013).  Size diversity should be respected and embraced, just like other types of diversity.

Weight loss is not necessary for health improvement.  People who exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and practice other forms of self-care can improve their health, without losing weight (Matheson et al. 2012; Schaefer and Magnuson, 2014.)

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Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming (Book Review)

childs-weightEvery parent and dietitian should read Ellyn Satter’s Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming.  Ellyn Satter is a registered dietitian and family therapist, and is considered to be the leading expert on feeding and raising healthy kids.

In the book, Satter refutes the idea that parents must force their children to eat less and exercise more to lose weight.  In the long run, this technique backfires, as children become preoccupied with food and turned off to physical activity.  Rather, Ellyn coaches parents to feed well, parent well, and allow children to grow up to get the bodies that are right for them.

For a summary of the books main points, read on, or click here for a PDF summary from Satter herself.

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GO, SLOW and WHOA Foods for Families

Everyone is buzzing about the new food symbol MyPlate, but how do you know exactly which foods you should buy to fill your family’s plates? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s We Can ®! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) program offers a great tool for easy, healthy eating: GO, SLOW and WHOA foods!  That is:


1)   GO Foods:  Nutrient-dense foods to be eaten almost anytime, like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, low fat dairy and water.

2)   SLOW Foods:  Foods to be eaten less (only sometimes), like white bread, oil, frozen yogurt, 100% juice and dried fruit.

3)   WHOA Foods:  Calorie-dense foods that should only be eaten once in awhile, like French fries, doughnuts, cookies, butter, soda, and other foods with added fats and sugars.

Using this printable GO, SLOW, and WHOA chart as a guide can make shopping, cooking, and healthy eating a whole lot easier for your entire family.  Post it on the fridge, or bring it with you on weekly trips to the grocery store.  And here’s a version just for the kids: “U R What U Eat.”

For more tips and ideas to build a healthy family, visit the We Can! website.

We Can! Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition, We Can! and the We Can! logos are registered trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Participation by Nicole Geurin, RD does not imply endorsement by DHHS/ NIH/ NHLBI.

Making Mealtime Fun

I wrote this post as a participant in the Eat, Play, Love blog carnival hosted by Meals Matter and Dairy Council of California to share ideas on positive and fun ways to teach children healthy eating habits. A list of other registered dietitians and moms who are participating in the carnival will be listed at the bottom of this post or can be found on Meals Matter.

As a dietitian with the KidShape program, I have learned the magic of making mealtimes fun in helping kids to eat healthier.  Here are some tips I’ve learned from KidShape families:

  • Eat meals together, as a family, as often as possible.
  • Make mealtimes pleasant.  Sit at the table, and thank the cook for preparing the meal.
  • Turn off the TV, so families can fully enjoy the food and the company.
  • Invite kids to help with the cooking.  This can be especially fun when preparing a kid-friendly meal, like homemade pizzas on whole wheat pita bread.
  • Be a good role model.  If kids see their parents enjoying nutritious foods, and contributing to a positive atmosphere at the dinner table, they will learn to do the same.
  • Take it slow.  Kids need to be exposed to food numerous times before they are willing to accept it.
What other tips have you found help make mealtimes fun?                                                      
Don’t stop here! Join the carnival and read other Eat, Play, Love blogs from dietitians and moms offering the best advice on raising healthy eaters. And if you don’t get enough today, for more positive, realistic and actionable advice from registered dietitian moms, register for the free, live webinar Eat, Play, Love: Raising Healthy Eaters on Wednesday, May 18.                                                                           

The Best-Kept Secret for Raising Healthy Eaters, Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD
Feeding is Love, Jill Castle, MS, RD, LDN
5 Quick Ways to Prepare Veggies with Maximum Flavor, Dayle Hayes, MS, RD
The Art of Dinnertime, Elana Natker, MS, RD
Children Don’t Need a Short Order Cook, Christy Slaughter
Cut to the Point – My Foodie Rules, Glenda Gourley
Eat, Play, Love – A Challenge for Families, Alysa Bajenaru, RD
Eat, Play, Love ~ Raising Healthy Eaters, Kia Robertson
Get Kids Cooking, Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN
Kid-Friendly Kitchen Gear Gets Them Cooking, Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD
Kids that Can Cook Make Better Food Choices, Glenda Gourley
Making Mealtime Fun, Nicole Geurin, RD
My No Junk Food Journey – Want to Come Along? , Kristine Lockwood
My Recipe for Raising Healthy Eaters: Eat Like the French, Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD
Playing with Dough and the Edible Gift of Thyme, Robin Plotkin, RD, LD
Picky Eaters  Will Eat Vegetables, Theresa Grisanti, MA
Raising a Healthy Eater, Danielle Omar, MS, RD
Putting the Ease in Healthy Family Eating, Connie Evers, MS, RD, LD
Raising Healthy Eaters Blog Carnival & Chat Roundup, Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RD, LD
Soccer Mom Soapbox, Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
Teenagers Can Be Trying But Don’t Give UpDiane Welland MS, RD
What My Kids Taught Me About Eating Mindfully, Michelle May, MD

Increase Children’s Fruit & Veggie Consumption with a Smile

A guest post by the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

A new study suggests that if parents smile while eating something that they want their children to eat that those kids are more likely to try it. Researchers found that how much children wanted to eat a particular food was influenced by emotions displayed by people eating that food.

These results build on a study published in late 2008 in the journal Preventive Medicine suggesting that parents can increase the amount of fruits and vegetables their children eat simply by eating more themselves. In this study, researchers found that when parents increased their own consumption of fruits and veggies, their kid’s consumption rose as well.

Parents have a tremendous influence on what their children eat. These studies demonstrate that this influence extends from simply making fruits and vegetables available for their children, to modeling their own enjoyment of eating a healthy diet.

Shape your kid’s eating habits and help them develop a healthy attitude toward food by making sure they see you eating plenty of nutritious, delicious, fruits and vegetables.

Here is some good advice for parents:

  • Show kids how enjoyable healthy foods can be with comments like “Wow, that tastes good!” or “Look how colorful!”
  • Set an example by being a good role model. Eat the way you want your child to eat. Choose a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups, eat in moderation and make exercise part of your regular routine.
  • Don’t ban foods. Kids will encounter cookies, chips and other treats when they’re away from home. Allow them to explore, but at the same time teach them what their bodies need. The goal is to enjoy a varied healthy diet, which allows for occasional indulgences.
  • Get kids in the kitchen. From an early age, involve children in preparing food. Children love being involved; they love feeling like they’re helping. If they feel they’re part of the process, they’re more likely to try the finished product.

Try making Crazy Curly Broccoli Bake for dinner. It’s one of the kid-friendly recipes you’ll find on the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters website.

More ways to get children to eat more fruits and veggies can be found at the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters website, Parents will also find a database of over 1,000 recipes, many of which can be made in 30 minutes or less, and tips for eating healthy on a budget. The entire website was designed to help the whole family easily fit more fruits & veggies into their meals and snacks.

Meal Planning Can Help Ease Crunched Schedules

A guest post from Produce for Better Health Foundation.

image Autumn is officially here. School has started and our schedules are tight. Some evenings it’s difficult to gather the entire family for a meal, much less find the time to prepare one! How do you ensure that healthy eating stays on top of your priority list?

Serving healthy meals and snacks can be easier than it seems – even for the busiest household. With a just a little planning, you can stay prepared for those last-minute meals and snack attacks that might otherwise send you running for the drive-thru. Planning ahead for snacks and meals that are both nutritious and delicious is the key to success.

Making a weekly menu and shopping list is the best way to plan for healthy meals that include fruits and vegetables. Before heading to the store, plan out and write down what you and your family will be eating for the next week. It’s helpful to have the calendar with all the family member’s activity schedules within reach because this will dictate which day’s meals need to be made (and eaten) quickly.

imageWrite out a menu plan of what you want to eat and when. Then write down any  ingredients for those dishes that you don’t already have at home and you’ve just filled out your shopping list! Choosing all the meals and snacks in advance will enable you to make sure that everything you need to fix these dishes is purchased, saving you time by avoiding extra trips later in the week.

Don’t forget about all the work that the store can do for you to save you time on meal prep at home. A fresh cut veggie tray can be reapportioned into smaller containers once home to go in packed lunches for the whole family. A fresh cut fruit salad makes a great addition to breakfast, or buy a bag of assorted whole fruits for grab-and-go enjoyment. A bagged salad is quick to portion out. Add a rotisserie chicken and dinner’s almost complete!

Take advantage of extra time when you have it. Make a double batch of a veggie-packed casserole recipe or lasagna, then freeze half for a quick meal another day. Cook more ground beef or turkey than your recipe calls for, and then use the surplus to save time the next day.

If you’re looking for some new (and healthy) recipes to spice up your routine, check out the recipe section of Beef StroganoffThere is even a special section of recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less! Here are two great recipes calling for autumn produce to get your meal planning started, Apple Chicken Stir-Fry and Beef Stroganoff.

Visit for user-friendly advice on adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet; including, recipes, nutrition information, tips for getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and even videos. Follow Fruits & Veggies—More Matters on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest fruit and veggie news.

Get Your Kid’s Lunchbox Ready for Back-to-School!

A Guest Post from Produce for Better Health Foundationimage

  It’s August. This means that, even though your kids are still thinking about sleeping in and hitting the pool, you’re thinking about fitting school supplies and new shoes into the budget. There are several things you will need to remember to pick up to ensure your child has a successful first day of class; pencils and paper, maybe a new calculator, and lots of fruits & veggies! Back-to-school time is the perfect time to think about adding more fruits & vegetables to your family’s meals and snacks.

Taking care of your child’s nutritional needs is important. Your best bet to ensure that healthy items in their lunch get eaten, not traded for high-calorie, less nutritious foods, is to pack fun fruits & veggies in their lunchbox. Typically, food that can be eaten with their hands is fun for kids. Think baby carrots, grape tomatoes, sugar snap peas and celery sticks. Send along low-fat salad dressing to use as a dip or, for a change of pace, give them salsa, guacamole or humus as dips. Fruit can be dipped in low-fat yogurt or peanut butter.

Bananas are another great lunch option. They don’t need to be washed sliced and kids can peal them themselves. Grapes, cherries and berries already come in kid-friendly sizes, and don’t forget about dried fruits like raisins, apricots, cranberries and plums. You can even find dried papaya and pineapple for a tasty tropical treat. None of these options need refrigerated so they will be safe and delicious even after a few hours in a locker or cubby.

imageTry cutting food into fun shapes using small cookie cutters or just a paring knife.  Red bell peppers make pretty hearts or butterflies, and try turning yellow ones into stars. Several pre-cut and portion-packaged fruit & veggie items can also be found in your favorite supermarket. They provide a quick and convenient alternative to cleaning and trimming things yourself when packing lunch in a hurry.

A Thermos of vegetable soup can also pack quite a punch of nutrition and will warm your child up on a cold day. Even if you don’t have time to make soup from scratch, you can always improve on canned soups by adding additional frozen or canned veggies. This trick helps stretch soup farther and adds a boost of flavor and nutrition too.

imagePack lunchbox items in fun, kid-sized containers. Colorful small plastic bowls with lids are just perfect for toting child-friendly amounts of food. Put lettuce, tomato slices and pickles in a separate plastic baggie and let the kids add these items to their sandwiches right before they eat them. This keeps the sandwich from getting soggy. Toss your child’s juice box in the freezer before packing it. It will thaw enough to drink by lunchtime and help keep other items in their lunchbox cool until then. Make sure that the juice box you choose is 100 percent juice, not all of them are.

image  Like New Year’s Day, the first day of school is a time to begin again, a time to  set new goals and commit to small changes for the better. One of those changes should be eating more fruits and vegetables. Raisin Waldorf Salad (pictured above) and Carrot Tuna Vegetable Dip (pictured right) are two delicious, lunchbox friendly recipes that will help you fit more fruits and veggies into meals and snacks.

Visit for user-friendly advice on how to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet; including, recipes, nutrition information, tips for getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and even videos.

Grilled Vegetable Mini Pizzas

I invented a new, delicious, quick-and-easy, healthy recipe tonight: Grilled Vegetable Mini Pizzas!



  • Whole wheat tortilla
  • Tomato sauce
  • Cheese (I used an Italian blend and crumbled goat cheese)
  • Veggies of your choice (I used spinach, eggplant and tomato)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Italian seasoning


  1. Place tortilla on a piece of aluminum foil.  Spread on tomato sauce and sprinkle on cheese.  Toast in a toaster oven for 3-4 minutes, or until cheese has melted and the edges of the tortilla are crisp.
  2. Cook a handful of spinach in the microwave until wilted, about 30 seconds.
  3. Finely slice your other veggies (like eggplant and tomato). Season them with a dash of balsamic vinegar and Italian seasoning.  Grill on a George Foreman grill for about 2 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. When everything is done cooking, top the pizza with the vegetables and eat!  If it’s too messy, you can fold it in half to make a calzone!
  5. Enjoy!

12 Year Old Kicks Off A Fast Food Free Pledge for Earth Day


This 12-year-old, Koa Halpern, is on a mission to change the world.  His goal: to encourage others to go without fast food for 2 weeks in honor of Earth Day.  According to Koa, if just one person stopped eating fast food for just 2 weeks he or she would:

  • Save 3,222 gallons of water that would be used for livestock
  • Save 9.4 pounds of grain used for livestock feed
  • Protect 285.4 square feet of rain forest from being cut down to graze cattle
  • Prevent 15.4pounds of manure from being created (source

Koa’s website,, provides ideas for alternatives to fast food, information about the detriments of processed food, and the opportunity to sign his pledge to go Fast Food Free for 2 weeks.  If a 12-year-old can do it… so can we!

5 Healthy Meals in 5 Minutes or Less

image Yesterday I gave a cooking demonstration to a group of seniors in Sacramento called Heart Healthy Cooking for One.  The recipes were so popular, easy to make, and delicious, that I thought I would share them on my blog! Each recipe takes 5 minutes or less to prepare, so it’s perfect for when you want to whip up a quick and healthy breakfast or lunch for yourself.  There is also a convenient vegetable cooking chart for the microwave at the end. Check them out, in easy printable format: 5 Meals in 5 Minutes or Less.

These recipes are all easily prepared using a George Foreman grill and a microwave.  If you don’t have a George Foreman grill, you can use a skillet on the stove.  But, I highly recommend a George Foreman grill because they are so easy to use!  I just use a small one that costs less than $20 at Walmart or Target.

All of these recipes are very heart healthy.  The characteristics of a heart healthy meal are:

  • Low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat)
  • Low in sodium
  • High in fiber

Heart disease is currently the #1 killer in America. But, 80% of heart disease is preventable through healthy lifestyle choices! So, I hope you enjoy these delicious heart healthy recipes!

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